By Elena Ciulli
On Mar. 12, Florida Tech announced that all of its remaining spring sports competitions and practices would be canceled due to concerns regarding COVID-19.
The announcement came in conjunction with the National Collegiate Athletic Association declaration of Mar. 12, which stated that the NCAA will not be holding championships for the remaining winter sports and all of the spring sports.
The canceling of the remaining winter sports and current spring sports impacts baseball, men’s and women’s rowing, softball, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women and men’s outdoor track & field, men’s golf, and men’s and women’s swimming.
According to student-athletes like Katrina Hand, a senior majoring in meteorology who is also a member of the softball team, this has been incredibly difficult news to hear.
“I was heartbroken when I found out that our season was over, especially because I am a senior,” Hand said.
According to Hand, the softball team was planning on having another historic season. “We were the reigning champions,” Hand said. “Last year was a remarkable season and I was hoping to end my college career with a similar one.”
Furthermore, the NCAA announcement specified that all college sports are effectively halted until August.
In addition to ending all spring sports for the season, the NCAA also clarified some eligibility concerns that some student-athletes might have.
The NCAA stated on Mar. 13, all current spring athletes will be able to receive another year of eligibility. However, regarding winter sports, the NCAA said on Mar. 30 that they are not granting winter sport athletes, including basketball, another year of eligibility on the basis that much of their regular seasons were already completed.
According to Theresa Gadilhe, a senior majoring in accounting, the rowing team was expected to leave for their first race this semester the morning after the NCAA announcement was made.
“When I heard the news, I was completely shocked,” Gadilhe said. “Realizing that we didn’t even have a single race left hurt even more.”
Gadilhe added that getting another year of eligibility would provide spring sport’s players with another opportunity to prove that their efforts are not worthless.
Pete Mazzone, Florida Tech’s interim athletic director, believes that the NCAA decision for spring student-athletes to receive another year of eligibility is reasonable.
“I think it’s a fair decision for our athletes who saw their season cut short,” Mazzone said. “Our swimmers, for example, were at the National Championships and they got sent home,” he added.
Swimmers like Dain Rust and Savannah Brennan didn’t even get a chance to swim at the NCAA Division II championships. Brennan was expected to be the first female swimmer in school history to score points at the NCAA Championships, and Rust was expected to be a top contender for the 100-yard breaststroke, according to David Dent, head Coach for the Panthers swim program. Dent added that he has hopes for next year and doesn’t see this time as a setback.
“We are not holding practices, but we still are sending out daily workouts that our swimmers can complete at home with no gym equipment,” Dent said. “ Luckily, Savannah has another year to compete for Florida Tech, and she will give it her all every single day to make it back to the championships next year.”